A portrait of Erin alongside an artistic representation of her stroke.

"There was a contained explosion in my head. The light was like needles."

Erin had a haemorrhagic stroke in April 2012, aged 29. She was working at Brunel University at the time: "During the day, I became slightly dizzy twice, but it could have been anything. When I got home, I was getting quite stressed about how I was going to do my work."

"In about half a second, there was a bang in my head, a contained explosion. I later found out it was a blood vessel that had burst. The headache was the worst you could possibly imagine. I started throwing up."

The hospital initially thought Erin had meningitis until they spotted the bleed in a CT scan. "I had my eyes closed for about three weeks following the stroke. At first, the light was like needles. I never lost my speech, but I had to learn to walk again. I was very slow at first, but I was very motivated to get back to it."

For Erin, rebuilding her life has meant adapting to her new normal: "Even today I struggle with fatigue and headaches. I say to myself 'That was me, but it's different now'. But in February I'll be finishing my PhD in Chemistry, which shows it's possible to achieve your goals. You just need that extra support to get you through."

Erin now volunteers for the Stroke Association, using her experience as a stroke survivor and feeding her passion for raising awareness of stroke.

Our Rebuilding Lives campaign

Erin features in our Rebuilding Lives campaign. Find out more about the campaign and watch the film here.

Recovery is tough, but with the right specialist support and a ton of courage and determination, the brain can adapt. Our specialist support, research and campaigning are only possible with the courage and determination of the stroke community.

Find out about the support available, sign up to hear how you can get involved, or make a donation to help us rebuild more lives.